One of the delightful innovations I found when I moved to my current parish was a long-standing practice of inviting parishioners–residents and college students both–to write the Sunday prayers of the faithful. Most of the people on the list were wife-husband teams or pairs of student roommates, or the occasional small group or committee.
I’d like to fine-tune the suggested preparation method I’ve used for lectors, adapting it for people writing the prayers. If any readers have any input, either on the structure of it, the ideas contained within, or on the actual practice of lectio divina, I’d appreciate. The goal would be to stay within one side of one page.
- A few days in advance from the weekend, find a place and time free from distraction, preferably 15 minutes minimum. Set the coming weekend’s Gospel passage and be seated in a relaxed way. You may want to have a journal at hand. After a few moments to catch your breath, begin with a prayer. Ask God for insight and grace.
- Read the Gospel passage to yourself aloud–slowly, quietly to yourself. Pause for fifteen to sixty seconds. Perhaps a word, phrase, or an idea will come to mind. Write it down, but don’t try to analyze or justify it in any way.
- Read the passage a second time, slowly and aloud. Perhaps something will strike you. Pause during the reading, when this happens. Perhaps for up to a minute. Consider this question: what may God be saying to you in this Scripture passage? Write down one or two sentences.
- Look over the passage again, reading it aloud again if you wish. At the end, ponder what God may be trying to tell the parish through this reading? What prayers are suggested in the lives of our parishioners, through these readings, and in the world this week?
- If you are intense about this process, you could repeat on other days for the other two readings or even the psalm. The Gospel and the words of Jesus especially are what most people listen for at Mass and make their connections, so make that your minimum aim.
- Write out the prayers, using the reflections from your prayer time with the Gospel and other readings.
- Conclude with a prayer of thanksgiving.